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Purnachandra Rao @Chandoo


All I wanted to Speak about CAT

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First of all, I am "inspired" by meshed (who happens to be one of my real good buddies on Campus @ IIM L)- which is why I'm posting her eon this thread! - Anyway, glad to share my story! :)

We all have our stories of having made it to an IIM or to the B Schools of our choice. Honestly, given the Demand-Supply mismatch for higher education in India, it toughens us up - and I consider that to be a blessing in disguise. Darwin couldn't have been more right about the Survival of the Fittest!

I graduated with Computer Engineering form BIT Mesra in 2006. Did not take the CAT in my final year (CAT 2005) - Was president of a club, member of the Placement Cell and more importantly, was part of a rock-band in college - so I chose to make the most of my final year of engineering college!

CAT 2006:

That's when it all started. I chose to work for Cognizant - Did not sit for other (read: better) companies 'coz I wanted to stay home - spend time with family since I had been away for a while and of course, prepare for CAT in the comfortable confines of my home. Started in July - thinking I had supernatural abilities and 4 months would be "sufficient." I was actually suffering from - what I call = the "good engineering college syndrome" - which forces everyone to beleive that he / she has the Midas Touch! - I was surprised to be proved wrong. I joined IMS, Kolkata - Weekend batch and took only the SimCATs on Sunday Mornings at Bhowanipore College, Kolkata (Popularly known as "Bhaggu").

As expected - my ego was slashed to pieces and I "secured" a 92.45 percentile in CAT 2006!

CAT 2007
Citius, Fortious, Altius, I thought! I started preps a little earlier in May. My monotonous job as a software engineer at a "top-tier IT Services Company" continued. I had a hard time spending time in office and had a harder time putting my idle mind (idle throughout the day) to work at night once I got back. Basically a desk job at these "IT firms" makes u so brain-dead sometimes - to add to that I was in Software Testing! Anyway, I joined TIME "this time" - a special program for CAT "Repeaters" - which was decent. I had scored low in QA in CAT 2007 - so I was all out to reverse that - being an engineer scoring a low QA was blasphemy. My CAT 2007 results turned out better than CAT 2008. - 98.09 Percentile.

Calls from IMT Ghaziabad, MDI Gurgaon.

IMT Ghz - Convert. Did not Join.
MDI Ggn - Waitlisted. I found the MDI selection process to be a little skew. As far as I could see it, the output of thier interview process was "binary". Percentile was so heavily weighted that there was hardly anyone above me with a lower percentile than me - and vice versa.

Anyway - "Jo hota hai, achhe ke liye hota hai!" - I thought. I was REALLY keen on making it to MDI Last year. I didn't. But I was determined that if my business education has to start NOW, it will!

I started finding out about making a career shift. Having been a debator and a passionate communicator, I knew that Marketing was worth giving a shot. Being an engineer and having IT work ex, the only firms that would consider me would be start-ups. I spoke to a few, interviewed 5 rounds with a start-up founded by some IIM A alumni and finally joined it. I decided to leave the "comfortable confines of my IT Cubcile in my hometown Kolkata" to pursue the hard life of joinind a company in it's nascent stages in Mumbai.

CAT 2008

Working at a start-up (and living on my own) meant long hours, 6 (if not 7) -day weeks, roaming around on local trains for meetings all over Mumbai and coming back home - tired and figuring out my dinner. I still made sure I took out time for 2 things:

1. My Blog - TalkingTails.in - and it paid off coz I got selected among 10 blogs by The Economic Times and earned an invite to the "Power of Ideas" event.

2. CAT 2008! - I got back late. But I ensured that I studied. I cut down on my sleep. Perhaps what also made things slightly easier was the fact that I was working with a GOOD set of people - a bunch that had passed out of the IIMA Campus, there were people from the IITs, the Army - so I knew that this is what I wanted to do. My "downside" had been lowered. I had a "Life beyond CAT now" - and I was excited about it. Anyhow, I worked hard and managed a GD / PI call from IIM L.

I was thrilled - but was weary of the pitfalls. It would take ONE bad day to take my 'L'one call away from me. I prepared to the minutest detail. I was fortunate to have some amazing friends who helped me tweak things to the the smallest detail possible. Finally my interview went off well. I had my fingers crossed though - and was THRILLED to have converted my only call.

MORAL OF THE STORY: If you've given things a shot and they aren't working out. Try out something different. There's no point doing the same thing all over again. No one can "deny" you anything. Everyone wants to study at an IIM - but well - If you can't make it, does not mean you don't learn "BUSINESS" or don't get to be a manager.

Honestly speaking, I have learnt a hell lot of business working in Mumbai - and that was one year that I was supposed to be in B School. So, if you want something, seek it! :)

Cheers - And all the very best to all "seekers!"


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I come in peace. Take me to your leader. http://www.twitter.com/apurv


I thought I must recount my story because some fun is definitely good for health.

I am a Bihari, the same one to whom IIT or IIM is a big brand. And I am also an egoistic brat who believes that cracking these exams make you superior to the masses.
CAT 2007
Like other IITians I also went for CAT in my last year. It was a fiasco. And the reason would make you laugh. My sister stays at Calcutta and I had gone to her place a day earlier to take my exam. And man I ate something ungodly.... I think some vegetable with lots of corns followed by a glassful of milk. And yes my tummy hurt but not so much that I could predict it could ruin my day.. my D-day. On the morning of CAT it did hurt real bad. After taking some pain-killers I somehow managed to reach the center and flopped down on the pavement in front of the main gate. I was trying to soothe my pain by adopting a number of awkward postures and it seemed to help. When I took my seat in the exam hall, I felt like Neo. Don't think you are, know you are. So I stopped thinking that I am feeling no pain and started trying to know I feel no pain. And I succeeded for 15 minutes which I must say were sufficient to get me all the score I could in quant. Beyond that, it was complete and utter comedy. A cruel end of my months of preparation. I ended up in bathroom though it was not allowed (examiner took pity on me). I also ended up drinking a lot of pudin hara. Well, I got 88.88. I could have gone to Shillong, I guess. :)
CAT 2008
I am getting bored. Well, I was in some company which paid me 4.4 lpa. Not enough and IT was something I hated from the core of my heart (prejudices die hard). Yet now I like it somewhat. Coming back, CAT was the only escape route I could see. I started taking the mock tests (TIME) and devoted some time after company. It helped that my room mate was also preparing and that he was also from IIT-KGP. What helped more was that being IITians we were enjoying such fabulous salaries. I was still not that serious, a frustrated mind never is. The trigger was another friend of mine who was in a better company (monetarily) and was cracking AIM-CATs quite easily. He was getting 99 with ease and I had not managed even one. The day he told me this was the turning point. Almost two weeks from then I hardly got a Still, ABLIK was good enough for me and I converted AL with wait list in IK. Now I am on the seventh sky and euphoria has not yet worn off me. But I must tell you I like studying hard. Afterall, it lets me prove to the masses that I am a cut above the rest. :P

Btw, more philosophically I don't believe in superiority of any individual. Everyone is potentially divine and potentially perfect, Swamiji said. And I value his words more than anyone else because I studied in Ramakrishna Mission, a school he founded.

Hey siddharth,

u hav really unusual story....!!! but cheers...!!! u're living ur dream now....


hey sidharth.

its realy cool dude..bt strange..gud

Its not unusual.. actually you can take away a key learning from this..

See, when I was preparing for CAT 2007, I could solve all kinds of questions. I used to solve the easier ones during the mocks and I could solve the difficult ones at home later on... After the gap between CAT 2007 and the next mock series, I kind of got weaker in solving the very difficult questions.. but they didn't matter, right??.. cause i never solved difficult questions during mocks anyway.. I could still nail the easier questions and that is what mattered
And I was more mature that time around and was more light-minded and aggressive in attempting.. which is why my performance did not dip, it only bettered during the 2008 mock season.. I hope this makes sense.. concentrate on solving the easier questions efficiently and CAT will be a cake-walk for you

My CAT story started in my 3rd year of graduation. Was not sure about what I wanted to do but was sure that pursuing a career in core electronics wasn't my cup of tea. Joined CL, wondering what this CAT experience would be like.. not knowing whether i was good enough or average or pathetic at these things. (Was preparing for CAT 2007)
To my pleasant surprise, I seemed to have a flair for CAT. Was quite good in quant and DI but was not sure how good I was in the verbal section. Worked very hard, decided to screw my placements and study for CAT.

Mock season started.. I was taking mocks from both TIME and CL and to my pleasant surprise, I was doing very well in both.. got over 99.7 %ile on an average on most occasions and was able to maximize in all 3 sections. In the meanwhile, I also got placed in a pretty good firm but still... focus was on CAT

CAT 2007: What I had feared had come true. The verbal section was as ambiguous and had an element of luck just like it was in CAT 2006. I spent some 75 min in the verbal section to try and attempt as many as i could (17 out of 25!) in that absurd section so that i could just clear the sectional cut offs. As things turned out, I did clear the sectional cut-off... got 95.3+ %iles in all 3 sections but the overall percentile was just 98.95. It was a kind of a shoker for me cause I did not get any IIM calls that year. Initially, I faced it strongly but then I got a little upset at not being able to do well after a strong mock season.. Got calls from IIFT, MDI and FMS. Did not attend IIFT and MDI interviews (liked these institutes but.. i just wasn't in the mood). Went for the FMS interview without preparation and couldn't clear it.

After the B-school season.. Focus was now on the job. Wanted to get about 2 years work ex now and thought about taking CAT seriously in 2009. In June 2008, some coaching institutes started their mocks and my friends sometimes used to come to my home to discuss how they did and talk about selection of questions etc etc.. It made me miss the mock season (I really loved taking these tests).. So I decided joining the TIME test series just for fun..

To my surprise, although i had not studied for a second since CAT 2007, my performance in mocks was still very strong... it was actually a little stronger than my previous season.. Kept scoring over 99.85%ile and even got top 10 finishes in some mocks at TIME (and at CL too, which i joined a little later on). I did not study, did not analyze mocks.. did not do anything except take the mocks but still, the performances were good..

CAT 2008: Liked the question paper right from the start.. Had decent attempts and by evening, I knew that it would be the turning point of my life.. My scores...
QA: 99.88
DI: 99.93
VA: 99.79
Overall: 100

when the result came out on January 9th, I had the best day of my life. Also managed 99.85 %ile in XAT and got a call from XLRI. Now there was another battle to be fought.. balancing the GDPI preparation with work.. I wont get into the details here but things got very... very hectic for me. To read an assessment of my interviews, you may click here:

I had calls from IIMs BLACKI, XLRI and MDI.. Converted calls from IIMs CBLKI, XLRI and MDI.. And I am heading to Joka day after tomorrow

  • Wowwww. 10 Apr '15.
After Class X :
2 possible paths I choose for my career.
1) Do a B Com and then an MBA
2) Clear IIT and then an MBA.
Path 1 would be less risky and easier (or so I was made to believe). Path 2 was challenging, riskier and fancier. I dont need to emphasize the path I chose.

After Class XII :
Clear JEE. IIT Kharagpur. Manufacturing Science and Engg.
Step 1 successfully completed.

First 2 years go by without any incidents or too many achievements and not so bad not so good cgpa. Suddenly seeing the profiles of seniors who make it through CAT, I realize that, IIMs would remain a dream if I didnt do something about CGPA and my profile.
Study harder for the next few sems. Do some CV building.

After my 3rd year
Decide on not doing a foreign intern but stay in India and work less and prepare for CAT. Land up at Bangalore. Full Masti. Zero Prep.

4th year
Joined IMS test series. Only 8 tests that year. Clear the cut offs in a test and then the next test would be a complete mess up. Cycle used to repeat. Still somehow remain confident that I will do well on D-day. No serious preparation other than play word games on LAN to improve vocabulary. These word games become an indulgence and I neglect QA and DI. No strategy in place. Very ill prepared.:splat: Could be termed cocky and over confident of self.

D-Day 2007
Mess up every section badly. Nowhere near any cut off.:splat: All dreams lie shattered. Decide not to take CAT again. Instead want to give GMAT, while I decided to take up job at FICO.

On the Job
The desire to crack CAT still exists but the confidence in my abilities is at an all time low. Coding as a career choice feels like a wrong idea and I do not foresee any growth for self in that sphere. Suddenly, am in two minds about CAT. Casually tell a friend that Id give CAT this year but without much prep. He looks me in the eye and tells me, If you are giving CAT, do it with all your heart.:clap:

Mission CAT 2008
Discover Pagalguy from that very friend. QQAD was my favourite companion in office till D-day. Join TIME test series. My 4 other roomies also join. Used to discuss scores and analyze and compare and feel jealous of the top scorers. Used to do well in most tests and slowly analyze and decide an optimum strategy. Decide not to worry too much about my high scoring roomies.

D-Day 2008
I take time when I start off solving. So was solving a PG QQAD previous yr test at the centre. (Call me silly, but thats me) Keep myself in the problem solving mode so that I dont waste time in the exam hall warming up.;)
Question paper has 25-25-40 instead of the usual 25-25-25 with higher marks for VA than usual. Coz I Consider VA my strength, I tell myself that this is my year. :-P Confidently give the exam. 50-50-45-5 was my time break up for QA-DI-VA-QA again.

CAT 2007 Fiasco
Results day
Knew I would be through.
QA 45 98.08%ile
DI 41 97.37%ile
VA 82 99.74%ile
Total 168 99.89%ile
Awesome feeling.

GD/PI season
Profile matters more. Unless I mess up badly, I was confident I would make it through one of the big three.

My IIM GD/PI Experiences
IIM Results
Wow!!! ABCLI want me in. K kicked me out but I dont mind.
Ecstatic. Over the Moon. Fruition of a dream.
Off to IIMA. To live my dream.

CAT 2008 story
A big thanx to my roomies for providing the optimum preparation :clap:conditions and to PaGaLGuY for providing the QQAD platform to hone my dying QA skills. ;)

PS: I'd penned a few tips for CAT aspirants out of request. Feel that it would be of help to a larger section if I posted it here.

My 2 pence on preparing for CAT

PPS: Use the links to know more.
This one is straight from the heart
Contains my CAT story, info about options besides CAT & ways to counter performance anxiety

My case must be common with many people who from others perspective had success initially, but deep down they knew that they have achieved very less. Finally, I feel now I am going in right direction after seeing the congratulations message on IIM C website.

Yes, people do say that once you are in IIT, you have done well in life. To add to that, I was among the toppers of my department, yet ended up in a mediocre job (though quite different from regular software jobs).

The real problem starts when you realize that because of this tag, there arent many choices left for you. I did not fill forms for any of the other exams (not even XLRI, FMS) and did not fill up any other colleges through CAT as well. Last minute, I filled up MDI (PGP-IM course), yes IM course and not regular one for the reason written below.

In school days I was an average kid who started doing decent in 11th and 12th and somehow got into top 5-10 students. I have a measly 76% in 10th (the reason why I didnt got call interview from IIM A) and 84% in 12th. College was average for first two years and like school, again picked up dramatically in last two years and ended up being department rank 3 with CGPA 8.2/10.

Read on to know how important it is to have a backup plan in life. You get what you want once you are trying so hard as one needs air inside water.

My tryst with the CAT began in 2005 November when I planned to write this humbling exam.
CAT 2005 First time in its history, the number of questions were less than number of minutes and last CAT of 2 hrs duration. This is the only CAT when I took a classroom coaching. Despite it, I never really prepared for the exam. The biggest blunder I did was attempting the paper in a different order of what I used to do in Mock CATs. Overall Percentile: 95. :oops:

I never knew about any college other than IIMs and XLRI at that time and thought it will be waste to fill in other colleges!!

In this year, I was confused if I really wanted to go for CAT or should I go for MS. I gave GRE in May-June 2005 instead of going for an internship to Europe. I scored 1400/1600, and also got MS with Scholarship in Univ. of Utah.

At that time I thought of taking up a job simply for the sake of it (as I thought of going for MS), I didnt prepared well for my placements either and ended up taking a job of mediocre salary and slightly technical profile (Intellectual Property patents, copyrights et al.)

Once I got schol. I realized that MS is not what am made for. I surely knew how to score in exams, and also how to flatter profs. but wasnt keen in research. So, I ended up taking the job and staying back in India for another try at CAT.

1.Do not throw your long trusted strategy in the dustbin in actual CAT, even if you see a lollypop section.
2.Be clear, what you want to do in future. Its not as easy as it sounds but try to find what you dont want to do asap. I for sure knew I didnt want to go into software jobs.
CAT 2006 75 questions- 25 in all 3 sections! and first 2.5 hrs paper. Only one paper of TIME was on the same format, and was bouncer for almost every coaching. I got into the trap. Math was proving to be my Achilles heel in Mocks but I didnt paid attention as I was in top 100 in 3 Mocks. I simply went with the thought that I should do 10 questions of quant, bas. And how stupid I was In the easiest section (Quant), I did only 12 question coz of my slow pace. Silver lining in the cloud was attempting only 9 questions in the most difficult VA section till that time and got all of them correct (99.2% in VA). Overall percentile 96.XXX.

But no regrets, I met someone special in my life this year and was happy roaming with her than studying.

1.Do not underestimate any section in CAT
2.In the journey of life, you can meet special, closest dear friend, dont ignore it simply for CAT.
3.Those who performed well in my office were the one who cracked CAT also, so there is surely some link to sincerity.

CAT 2007: A replica of CAT 2006. Mostly I did was sectional in practice other than Sunday Mocks. This time I got rank in top 100 in 7 out of 10 Mock CATs and still didnt to well in CAT. Scores say I didnt do well in VA and Quant. But the problem was something else. Percentile a measly 97.

I was in a state of shock and depression. Lost belief in my abilities. Luckily, I got a good one week break in form of holidays with my friends to Goa for Christmas. This help me a bit in realizing that probably I can work at a better firm for sometime and then give GMAT. It was almost the end of my CAT story. I didnt know in which section am actually weak.

1.Need to have some kind of backup.
2.Need to do something about performance anxiety.
3.If you dont have one apparent section as weakness, chances are that all your sections are strong.

I started reading Furtures and Options in hope of getting into DB or Lehman Bros. through my alumni network. This was Jan-2008 and Sub-prime crisis loomed large. What an opportune time to make career move to i-banks. :P
CAT 2008 - I heard about Financial Engineering this time around. Lucky for me, GRE score was valid for 5 years so I started applying for MS in Fin. Engg in the US. First boost of confidence came after I was offered MBA admission from The Lally School of Management & Technology, US (when I applied well past their deadline) it wasnt very high ranked insti, but a decent one. They waived GMAT score requirement as well.

With renewed hope, I made MS Fin. Engg. as my back-up option and started applying religiously.

At the same time I consulted a psychiatrist to ask help regarding performance anxiety. He recommended me a book that is a self-help remedy for performance anxiety and mild-depression. I would like to recommend Feeling Good by David Burns to fellow puys if they also have performance anxiety.

This was the first time I was told by someone that PG is useful. I did have an account since 2007, but never used it. I use to think its a place for people to crib about CAT. (How wrong I was!)

Meanwhile, I decided to hang in the same company I got my campus placement in as I can squeeze out more free time here once I was promoted as Project Manager.

From May 2008 onwards I studied for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the eve after office, daily. Left every worldly pleasure for 6 months and only concentrated on CAT. I and my closest dear friend studied for all this time together. She was great at VA and that helped me a lot.

I changed my test series from CL to TIME and not even once got a rank in AIMCATs. I gave CL mocks on weekdays by borrowing paper from somewhere. I kept experimenting with various strategies.

(Now the answer to why I filled PGP-IM at MDI) Again and again getting almost same percentile so filled up one course which Ill surely get short listed for. Not filled PGP coz I knew, if I qualify, I will qualify for IIMs as well.

A small change I did for giving CAT was taking test centre as my small city hometown instead of usual NCR. Once I walked into the center on November 16, 2008 and saw lots of unknown faces (coz me being in NCR the entire time), I felt a sudden surge of confidence these guys seems to be here only to increase my percentile

This is how my score card looked on 9th Jan 2009:

Test Section Score Percentile
Section - I Quantitative 47.00 (out of 100) 98.49
Section - II Logic & Data Interpretation 40.00 (out of 96) 96.94
Section - III Verbal 73.00 (out of 160) 99.31
Total 160.00 (out of 356) 99.81

You have been shortlisted by the following IIM's for their PGP interviews. Details available on the individual institute's website (candidates for IIMC should check whether they are shortlisted for PGDM or PGDCM or both):
Calcutta Indore Kozhikode Lucknow

I was confident of a convert given my CGPA in IIT and other achievements. But I am not sure if I would have joined L,I,K It was IIMC that I wanted badly after losing IIM A & B call because of a lousy 10th

Finally on April 10th I came to know that I had converted all my calls CLIK. Felt greattttttttttttt
So I am off to Joka!!!!

Other converts:
mdi pgp-im (the only non-iim course that I filled up)
MS Fin. Engg. - Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor
MS Finance - Univ. of Illinois, Urbana Champagne (UIUC)
MS in Management (conc. in Finance) - Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
MS in Fin. Management - State Univ. of New York (SUNY)
__________________________________________________ __
My few cents for all future CAT aspirants:
Have faith in your abilities. If you believe you can, you will. (Clich but true)
If you fail, dont give up. Try again. This time you have learnt more
Analysis of mocks is the most important part of your preparation. (key to CAT)
Work regularly in all sections (any section can ding you, trust me).
Develop at least two sections as your strong ones
Rock on!!

IIMC (2009-11 Batch)
The harder you work, the luckier you get.
Part 2
November 15th 2008. Like everyone else, I spent this day trying to calm my nerves down. I played TT for four hours, watched my favourite episodes from That 70s show, spoke to my close pals, wished people et all. In spite of all that, it was one of the most tense nights Ive spent- I could scarcely sleep. Come morning, and I felt a lot of positive energy and optimism. I got ready, and reached the venue well in advance. 10:15 AM, and my mood suddenly changed for the worse. I just couldnt fathom what had happened, it was probably the enormity of the day and situation. 10:30 AM. Thanks to 40 questions in verbal, I decided to follow a 40-65-45 strategy (DI-VA-QA) I usually start with my strongest section, DI and today was no different. 5 minutes into the first set, and Im unable to solve a single question. I try the second set, and score a dud in that too. Panic creeps in. Damn, this is supposed to be my strength! I generally score more than half my marks in DI. I somehow do a few questions (hardly confident about them) and leave the section 45 minutes into the paper. At this point time, my confidence was at a low- I had exceeded the time limit Id set for DI, and had reached nowhere with it.

This was when I just sat back and asked myself to relax. I finished off one of the dairy milk chocolates that Id brought, drank some water, closed my eyes and tried to recollect sweet memories. With some of my focus back, I started with the verbal section. The verbal and grammar part were alright and it was time to move to the RCs, students bete noire in the last two years. Surprise, surprise, it was one of the easier RC sections Id come across. I did three of the four RCs, solved a lot of questions spending 65 minutes on the verbal section. At this point of time, I was on a high, I was feeling super confident. I had 40 minutes in hand, and the quant section. I started with it, solved 1-2 questions in withina minute. I was now feeling like the king of the world. 35 minutes, and I completed 16 quant questions. Super cool. Now, I had 5 mintues remaining. Normally, I never go back to a particular section, but fate (will be reveled later!) made me go back to the DI section. Fortunately, I was able to pick up a set, and lo- at the stroke of the bell, I had three more questions in the pocket. At the end of 150 minutes, I had the following number of questions in the pocket

DI: 17 (50 mins)
VA: 34 (65 mins)
QA: 16 (35 mins)

It was my sisters engagement ceremony on the next day, hence I rushed back to catch the train and left for Vizag. It was only the next day that I was able to check my scores. It was probably one of the two shocks that I got during the journey. A mere 33 in DI (with one question having two correct answers), 64 in quant and 66/71 in verbal. I knew instantly that the DI score would be a fight to get through.

My mood was down, but Id to lift myself as placements were due in 20 days. I came back to college and put in a lot of effort for securing a job (which was a struggle, given the economic situation). All this time, I had one eye on the predictions- I was expecting calls from B,L,I. (considering previous years criteria and my good academic record).

I got placed on December 18th, and it was time to relax and look forward to my CAT results till then. In between, I also gave the XAT. On January 8th, while browsing through PG, I came across this thread proclaiming that the results had been declared. I tried opening the site, but it didnt. Hence, like many others, I posted my TR number on the thread and hoped for the results. Meanwhile, I also got a call from Prem bhai, aka prem_ravi (whod been my elder brother and guide for all these days). He asked me about my result. Hed got L, which was a disappointment. He offered to find out my results from estranged_gnrs and asked me for my Tr. Number. A call 5 minutes later from Prem bhai. Maroo, youve got 99.88 in quant, 99.18 in verbal and 99.86 overall. Prem bhai, tell me the calls!. DI 84.92 . You have a call from Indore. I just lost what he tried telling me after that, I was shattered, to say the least. I had no words to speak, no response to the messages. Even the tears refused to flow. It was the lowest moment in the last few months.

I was expecting a 33 in DI, but finally got a 28. When I finally looked, one of the questions which had two options as the right answer was cancelled. There went four marks, and possible calls from B,L, K and C (pgdcm) down the drain. I was shattered at this, as a similar questions in CAT 06 was not cancelled.

It took quite some time to recover from the situation. People told me to put aside the disappointment and focus on the calls I had (I also had XL PM&IR-; which I was not very interested in, converted it though). At this point, Id probably decided that Id give CAT another shot, I just couldnt motivate myself to prepare for the GD-PI stage.

I had my interview on February 10th. Till the last week of January, Id hardly done a thing. One fine day, I got a call from Career Launcher talking about some boot camp which was going to be held. I thought, chalo, lets visit the resort and have some good fun. I think this was a very important call. The weekend, I attended the boot camp and that changed my focus was completely. In one word, the boot camp was brilliant. I think its an amazing concept and the execution of it was superb. After the bootcamp, I had around 10 days to go for my interview- and I gave it my everything those 10 days. Reading up stuff, revising subjects, attending GD sessions, writing essays for my views... I did it all.

Once again, I was very happy with my GDPI preparations. On 10-2, I attended the GDPI in my city and it was a very good experience. You can read about it here.

Exactly two months later, I was playing the cricket finals in college, when someone called and told me that Id made it. The result was good, it made me happy. However, now began the toughest part of the journey. I had to decide between a good paying software job with a shot at CAT later on one hand and IIM Indore on the other. Believe me guys, it was the toughest decision Ive had to make in my life. Nothing was as torturous, as irritating as thinking about it. On one side I had my parents, faculty members at TIME and a few friends urging me to take up my MBA now. On the other hand, I had other well wishers, college seniors and friends asking me to give CAT another shot. I had unto 30th April to send the DD to Indore. The more I spoke to people, the more I thought about it, the more conundrums were being created in my mind. My mind kept oscillating from one extreme to the other. Finally, the factors for joining Indore won, and I sent the DD at the very last moment, on 28th April.

The biggest factor which finally turned the tide was Mr. Ravic, IIM Indores new director, who has quite a reputation. People actually expect him to accelerate Indores growth as an institute. Then there were your conventional factors like the fear of not making it again (especially given the new online CAT- whichd probably increase the luck factor), a run-of-the-mill-software-dev job, escaping the recession etc. And the other big factor- didnt I mention earlier that I was able to solve 3 DI questions in the last 5 minutes. If not for those questions, Id have been nowhere near getting any calls. It was as if destiny had chosen that Id just solve those questions and make it to Indore- none of the other IIMs. Hence, the percentile clock stopped at 84.92.

I know Ive disappointed a lot of people and well wishers by deciding to join Indore. Especially prem_ravi and sreekanthp. However, Im sure that you guys will understand.

Id take this wonderful opportunity to thank the following users of PG, without who I wouldnt have made it.

Sid_dharth, For being a mentor and a guide right from day one.
Prem_ravi, For being a mentor and a guide from the time we started talking to each other. Prem bhai, I hope youll understand my decision.
Kamalchhabra, for helping me make my decision. Also for the wonderful help hes always provided.
The_phantom, ujjwal.deep for helping me make my decision.
srinibas for being a great friend and a constant source of encouragement.
Sahilbansal, for being my biggest competitor and a very good friend. It was amazing that we so often got scores close to each other.
Dheeraj138, for being a guide, friend and inspiration.
The Raven, for so selflessly helping us out.
Selebratinglife, for being an amazing friend. Ive learnt a lot from you, dude.
Adityacoool, for being a guide, captain and constant encouragement
Orangutan, for being a very good friend and for all the help.
Rik_12, bhai you are awesome! Thanks for everything.
Vivekkahn, for always being the very sane and stable guy that you are. And for all the advices.
Varunkhullar, for discussing all those quant problems with me.
Maverick_srikan, for being such a wonderful mate.
kamalaandi, for being of such great help.
Friendlyfire, akshu4u, prateekgupta and other PG Hyd members for all the meetings and discussions.
Other members of DT and UDT, for being an inspiration, for providing the help and for all the wonderful discussions.
Sumitrocks, justlikethat and other seniors for being of such great help.

Ive also met some other wonderful people along the way on PG. I hope I can stay a touch with all of you

Sorry for any hurt that I may have inadvertedly caused.

All in all, its been a journey which has taught me quite a few things. Something, which Id always remember. Something which has given me a fair bit of ups and downs. Something which has introduced me to some amazing people. Something which has taught me to exercise control over my mind. Something which has taught me to value keeping your cool, confidence, humility, respect and systematic work. Something, which has been a version of life itself.

All the best puys, do PM for any help or gyaan which you might need.


Part 1

My CAT story is neither awe inspiring nor exceptional, its just a little journey in the life of an ambitious chap which saw him meet some amazing people. Except for a couple of points, it was a pretty smooth and enjoyable ride.

A brief background before I start with the actual CAT story. I was always a good student at school, with good grades and stuff. My extra curriculars were also consistently good, quizzing, debating, cricket etc being the highlights among them. Expectedly, I did well in class ten, topping my school with 91.6 . It was not the time for a career choice wherein I decided to opt for science. I'd prepare for IIT-JEE, but without any coaching. A couple of years spent in Puttaparthi was well worth it for the extra curriculars and stuff, but I could not put in much with respect to my JEE preparations. I secured a 91.2 in the boards, but could not make it through JEE. This was when I decided to give it another shot. I joined a coaching class, locked myself up in a room full of books and threw out the keys. At the end of it all, I secured 3303 in JEE and 1435 in AIEEE. Having loved programming in class 12, I went ahead with B.Tech (CSE) from IIIT Hyderabad.

I think joining IIIT-H was one of the most important decisions I took in my life, because it was these four years which really shaped me as a person. The kind of friends I made, the interactions I had, the understanding of life and other things around me which I achieved etc were all due to the institute. It was then that I saw the value of studying at a very good place, it exposes you to and teaches you a lot of different things.

I was a good student in the college, but somewhere down the line, I started thinking of an MBA. Thus far, I'd not given much thought to it, but coming from a family where nobody thinks of a career apart from business, this had to have an effect. I started weighing the pros and cons of doing an MBA, asked questions like now or later; India or abroad etc. Finally, after taking various factors into account, I decided to take the plunge and joined TIME for my MBA coaching in my third year (September 2007). I thought I'd complete the syllabus by May and then go for the kill in the mock tests.

However, it was not meant to be . In our college, the third years take on the responsibility for organizing and managing the college fest, Felicity. I was elected the coordinator for the fest which was to be held in February, 2008. Its quite a huge event, we had a budget of over 15 lakhs INR. Thus began the preparations for Felicity '08, throwing everything including CAT preparations and college academics out of the window. As it turned out, the fest was a huge success.

It was at this time that I wrote my first mock CAT, conducted by TIME. This was a test for the classroom students only, MC100901- written by a mere 10000 students. I was in two minds whether to take the test or not, as my preparation levels were at ground zero. However, I went ahead and the test turned out to be a major confidence booster. I managed to secure an AIR of 3, something which made me realize that a little effort, and I should do well in CAT '08.

However, the next few months- until the end of April were spent in making up for lost time wrt my college work. I somehow scraped through the exams and finally we had a break! A pretty long break it was, more than three months. I had decided that this was a make or break period- I had to do well during this time interval. I went home (Vizag) and started my preparations in earnest. I drew up a schedule for three months and put in some good effort. This was also a time when I started attending the tests being conducted by TIME Vizag. I was happy with what I was doing - putting in four hours of good study a day.

All this changed with one phone call from Microsoft Bangalore. A few weeks back, I had applied for the post of an open source developer in Microsoft, but I'd given up hopes of it as it was more than a month into my vacations. But here an opportunity opened up for me. I gave the phone interviews, and cleared them all. I was offered an opportunity to intern with the MNC for two and a half months- May 19th to July 31st. The temptation to take the offer was high, however one part of me wanted to stay back and prepare for CAT. However, I finally decided to spend the next couple of months with Microsoft.

It was in Bangalore that I gave my first AIMCAT (May 18th). The results of the AIMCAT reinforced my confidence - a 99.44 percentile, clearing all the cut offs. In the initial few days, I had a lot of time on hands to put in preparations- I managed a couple of hours a day, along with my usual newspaper reading. However, as time moved on, there was a lot of work pressure from office. Add to that all my other friends from college who were working with me- we would hang out a lot in the wonderful city of Bangalore- often at the expense of preparations. It came to a pass when I hardly had any time for my preparations. I'd give the mock on Sunday, analyze the paper and lo- the week was over! The bright point about my CAT preparations during this time was the scores I managed- they generally hovered around the 99 percentile mark. However, I was far from satisfied with my preparations.

I got an opportunity to change that in August, when I was back to college. This was a period when I really started the grind. My aim was to complete the basic syllabus by the end of August, and then focus on test taking. This I managed, albeit with a time gap of ten days. Meanwhile I also joined another test series - Career Launcher. I think this is one very important part of preparations - not getting used to the papers of a particular institute. CL's papers were good for the shock value- I think they have a very good mock series and online analysis. From September on, I'd fallen into a particular pattern. Give CL's mock on Saturday evening, come back and relax, write the AIMCAT on Sunday morning, come back and chillax. Then analyze the two papers till Wednesday evening. That is how important mock CAT analysis is. I spent a good five days in the week writing or analyzing mocks, and it was totally worth it. My analysis would consist of redoing the wrong or unattempted questions, looking for better ways to solve the questions I did, recognizing my weak and strong areas and working on the weak areas, using the online analysis on the coaching institutes. It was definitely the most important part of my CAT preparations. Its all very well for you to solve questions, but doing papers in an examination environment- especially when the competition is so high and margin for error is not becomes all the more important. CAT is an exam where selection of easy questions (and letting go of your ego- a tough question fetches the same number of marks as an easy question) is the most important aspect - and only doing real time exams can help you achieve that.

From August till the lead up to CAT, I was very happy with my preparations. I was able to give enough time to it, solve a lot of questions and do pretty well in the mocks. It was around this time that the Dream Team '08 was selected and my seeing my name in it (albeit as a substitute player) was probably the biggest confidence booster during all of my CAT journey. It reinforced the belief that I'd make it this time around. Coming to the role PG played, I think it was one major component of my preparation. Every Sunday, I'd write the mock, come back and immediately open PG to look at the scores of puys. AIMCAT threads were like mirrors, they reflected the performance we'd give. For all problems and issues, I'd rush to the DT and UDT threads - for me, they've been the lifelines of my CAT preparations.


Aaahfinally a chance to post on the most sacred thread of PG. Thank you God ! I have been dreaming of posting this since last one year !
Although a bit late, but I'm doing it nevertheless.

It was the third year of my engineering when my friends and family started encouraging me to take up CAT. I had always been a technical guy, and this was the reason that I took up engineering. So I could never really convince myself, why I should take up this exam. My parents' reason was simple- they wanted a better career for me. Now, this is where many people lose their direction. And believe me, if this is the sole reason with which one prepares for CAT or any management entrance test for that matter, chances are really slim that he/she would be able to make it to the B-School of his/her choice.

So my first attempt on CAT was just to make my parents and peers feel happy of the fact that I gave this exam on their recommendation. Any guesses on my percentile that year ? Even I don't remember correctly- it was 75.xx overall

Although I didn't prepare even a bit, I felt really bad somewhere inside me. I had never fared this bad in any of my exams in my life. This event sort of- planted a sampling of revenge in me. I wanted to show the world that even I can score well in this much-hyped aptitude test. But then, I thought, should I prepare for CAT just for the heck of it ? Will this really be worth the effort ? Naaah

Well, time went and I joined a software firm of my choice. And that is when my real motivation started. On the very first day of my induction, I saw six hundred guys and gals sitting in a large room, being briefed about the rules and regulations of the company. I felt a severe loss of identity here. Just then, we were asked to sign a bond of fifteen months. I wanted to stand up and run away- but I couldn't, since I didn't have any other option. I tried to calm myself. I told myself that if this is the way I have to prove myself, then so be it. Six hundred/seven/eight or a thousand- bring them on. If I have it in me, I'll do well in any situation. I am not going to be afraid of this crowd. Period.

Guys, this was one turning point of my career. Let me tell you, even at this point, I was not thinking of CAT. I just wanted to do well in my organisation, and believed in myself. Then the training started, and I did well in most of the tests. Our training was scheduled to get over by November- the CAT month The training had a really gruelling schedule- I had to wake up at 6:30 to catch the company bus, and returned home by 10. Boy ! That was really one hectic period.
Around the same time, I realized that the "revenge" sampling had grown to a tree. I was doing well in my training tests. I decided to give CAT another shot, with at least some preparation this time, so I joined a "test series". My scores were nothing short of a sine wave. I couldn't make out anything of my mock scores. I had no idea of strategizing, question selection, speed and time management et al.
Result: 78.xx in CAT-07, and similar pathetic results for some other exams that I wrote.

Meanwhile, I got into a project, and work started in full swing. Just when I had joined the team, a senior guy left to pursue his MS. I was given a hell lot of work to do, with little time to think for my career. Nevertheless, I got a lot of appreciation from my managers and the client for my single handed and efficient handling of work related issues. Two months went by like this in a jiffy. It was then that I realized that I am capable of doing much more. The work that I was doing seemed very mundane and process-oriented. There was little room to voice your own ideas/opinions even if it could greatly improve the whole process. Soon, I started feeling that the office hierarchies, egos and "policies" always tried to pull me down whenever I tried to rise up. I needed to equip myself with some more skills to bring myself to the front end of an organisation, and give me some authority to make decisions, or at least suggestions. And for me, an MBA fitted in perfectly for this purpose. I saw MBA as an investment, which would make me a much better equipped individual, from the industry perspective, and also complement my existing skill-set.

I started working hard for CAT'08. I joined the TIME AIMCAT test series this time. I had only one study strategy- be regular. I used to spend a fixed amount of time everyday for my preparation, and work on my weak areas. As posted by senior puys many times, mocks are very very important for your preparation. Each mock would tell you your weak areas/sections. Work diligently towards improvement, and you would definitely see the results. An occasional dip in the scores does happen; don't ever get disheartened by such events. In the end it's how well you perform on the D-day, which in turn depends how much time you have spent on analysing your mock tests and worked on strategising.

Finally, the results came. Though I didn't do brilliantly, but it was enough to get calls from a few decent institutes. My overall CAT score was 96.25, with decent sectional break-ups. I also managed to do well in some other exams like XAT, SNAP, NMAT, and had a total of ten GD-PI calls by the end of the results season.

Now came the GD-PI season. I didn't have the time to join any coaching for this, since they mostly had their classes on weekends, and I felt that spending 6-7 hours of this precious time would be more of a waste. Instead, I decided to invest this time in improving my GK, something where I was really bad at. I concentrated more on current affairs, and started questioning each and every thing happening around me. I also started reading Economic Times and a few business magazines regularly. This proved to be of immense help. I started attending my GDs with full confidence. By the end of the GD/PI season, I had skipped two calls, got three rejects, and five converts. Finally going to join IMI, Delhi.

Mostly in life, once you get what you wanted for too long, you start reliving the memories of the whole journey which led you here.


Early risings from the bed, cursing the company bus timings;
Moments of feeling low when I couldn't score well in the coaching "test series";
Feelings of loneliness and that I'm missing out big time on life;
Times of self-doubt..

I've been through all this. And much more. And I'm much more confident and happy than I was before experiencing and coping up with these. This is what I toiled for a whole year. Finally, the hard work has paid off.
So, my biggest advice to the aspirants- dig in, and find whether you actually want it. Ask questions to yourself- are you ready for it ? will this make your career better ? and most importantly, what impact would this course have on your overall personality ?

The day you are able to find the answers to these questions, you are absolutely ready to choose your path. And trust me, once this exercise is done, more than half the battle is won. That's right. If you know thyself well, no interview can stop you from realizing your dreams.

Another piece of advice:

Most of the IT junta hates the company it's working for. The grass invariably seems greener on the other side. There's my simple advice-you HAVE to work here for some time to come. Accept this fact instead of cribbing, and start looking for opportunities. In a movie called "Evan Almighty", there's a very thoughtful dialogue-"God does not give you what you ask HIM for. He gives you the opportunities where you can prove yourself."
I was fortunate/sensible enough to get one thing straight, early in my career. All the successful IT companies have been built out of sheer hard work, strong value system and professionalism. Its like- there's an ocean of knowledge flowing at your place. Some people stand with a fork, some with a spoon and a few with a bucket. YOU have to decide what you're going to stand with. There's a lot to learn, wherever you're working. My senior manager is the person who taught me some of the best lessons of my life. I'll always be indebted to her for the same. The team meetings/discussions taught me something that no GD/PI coaching can ever teach you. The hectic schedules of my project and the gruelling deadlines taught me all the time management needed for an exam like CAT. Of course, extra reading and taking regular tests is very important.

Go on puys ! If you believe in yourself, there's no one- I repeat, No One who can stop you from achieving what you deserve. Clichd as it may sound, but still works nonetheless.
And of course, it goes without saying- PG rocks, and is a must for every serious MBA aspirant. There's a lot to explore here-pagalpanti ki koi seema nahi :D

All the best, and God Bless !


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